Ruminations and Revelations

Janie walks into the conference room, hair still slightly wet from the shower she took after her workout.
Johny is currently kicked back in the conference room, a leatherbound journal in front of him. He's writing in it with a pen, with what could be concidered to be a flourid script.
"Ms. Blair." He says, without looking up.
"Mr. Wulfson," she replies with a nod, then seats herself.
Johny continues to write, not quite looking up yet. "Something on your mind, Ms. Blair?" He asks, setting the pen down, in the crook of the books pages. He looks up, a pair of bifocals on his features.
"Always," she replies, smiling briefly. "Boston was… Interestin', I suppose."
Johny quirks a brow, leaning back in his chair. "How -did- that go?"

"Nothin' like either o'us expected," Janie replies. "Hasn't Slinger reported in yet?"
Answering succintly… "I havn't asked him to, nor expected a report. What happened in Boston had nothing to do with the Watchers. But if you want to talk about it, as friends… I'll always listen."
Janie nods, taking the point. "Ye were pretty much on th'dot regardin' Mrs. Mancini; she was upset at th'deaths o'her sons an'clearly wanted blood - th'more, th'better. If it'd been up t'her, she might've ordered Slinger's liver served as an entree to th'dinner. As it turned out, though, there were a few factors in play I hadn't accounted f'r, but…" She trails off, then shrugs. "I promised not t'reveal any details about th'particulars just yet; ye'll probably find out soon enough, I suspect. It's not somethin' that'll directly affect th'Watchers…"

Johny looks to Janie now. "If you cannot discuss what happened, why have you brought it up? To tease me?" He asks, a curious, amused tone in his voice.

Janie chuckles, then shakes her head. "I'll leave teasin' t'May or Lil," she replies. "It's just… Things turned out t'be a lot less black an'white than I'd believed, an' I'm havin' trouble sortin' through th'shades o'gray. So I figured I'd talk to th'resident expert an'maybe unmuddle my head a bit."

Kassandra steps in from the hallway.

Janie sits at the conference table, across from Johny. She chuckles, then shakes her head. "I'll leave teasin' t'May or Lil," she replies. "It's just… Things turned out t'be a lot less black an'white than I'd believed, an' I'm havin' trouble sortin' through th'shades o'gray. So I figured I'd talk to th'resident expert an'maybe unmuddle my head a bit."

Johny has a leatherbound journal and pen he had been writing with, a looping, swirling script, though tightly bunched, dominating the page. He slightly smiles then, standing up and moving to the wetbar… "Drink?" he asks then. "The world is nothing but twilight. The concepts of black and white, I leave to Sligner, who needs them to exist and rationalize what he does." A pause. "I had to long ago divorce myself from the ideal of black and white. I know what I do, everything I do, is gray. My only hope is that in the end, it's a lighter -shade- at the end. People construct around those shades the ideas of good and evil, but I see them more as constructive and destructive. Good and evil are our own moral overlays we put atop those fundimental forces. We forget, in our moral high ground that the volcano's ash is the most fertile soil we have, or that forest fires spur growth… or that the Black Plague brought forth the Renaissance."

There is sound in the hallways, albeit faint given the paneling here and the general thickness of the walls. Someone speaking aloud, perhaps, maybe a knock. A moment passes and then the door to the Conference Room will open, Kassandra there looking inside, "Saaaaaam?" She pauses and looks between the two of you, "Oops. Sorry, didn't mean to intrude."
"Come on in, Kass, no intrusion. Ms. Blair was just talking to me of black and white, and I was offering my perspective."
Nodding, Kassandra slips inside and lets the door close behind her. She stands there for a long moment, leaning against it and watching before speaking. She's wearing civvies, of course, with a pair of dark sunglasses even though it is night.

Janie nods at this, clearly unhappy but unwilling to delude herself into claiming Johny isn't right. "I'd worked up a pretty big head o'steam," she admits. "Th'notion o'havin' t'go crawlin' an' apologize to that woman f'r killin' a monster who made wealth out o'dealin' in th'worst o'human sufferin' just because he was her son…"

She shakes her head. "Goin' in, I wasn't sure I'd be able t'swallow my temper long enough t'refrain from sayin' what was on my mind an' t'hell with th'consequences," she admits.

"But… It wasn't that simple. None o'it was. An' I'd all but convinced myself that it was, that it had t'be, because I wanted it t'be simple."

Her cheeks flush with shame. "I wasn't just wrong, I was refusin' t'entertain th'possibility that I could be. Th'former's only human; th'latter's… Not somethin' I'm permitted."

Johny makes up a set of drinks; a fruity juice concoction for Kassandra, and a pair of scotches on the rocks for himself and Janie. "So tell me what you -thought-, and tell me what yuou -found-."
Stepping up, Kass snags the drink and sits down .. on the end of the table, stepping up off of her chair and onto the flat surface. She watches the conversation, looking between the pair with interest.

Janie nods to Kass. "Evenin', Kass," she greets the elven woman. "Thanks f'r th'help gettin' me an'Slinger t'Boston."

She takes a sip from her drink, then continues to Johny. "Thinkin' o'organized crime syndicates, whether they're th'mob or th'yaks or th'triads or th'Vory, as universal bad guys is temptin'," Janie replies. "It's also accurate a lot o'th'time, as long as ye pick an'choose y'r facts an'dismiss counterin' points as nothin' but deliberate PR attempts. It's easy t'see them as nothin' more than well-dressed organized bullies that enjoy pretendin' they've some kind o'moral right t'bully, an'then t'congratulate y'rself on seein' through their 'family men' surface…"

"… But no matter how much I'd like it t'be that simple, it isn't. Sure, some o'them are little more'n thugs in suits, an' th'orgs have good uses f'r them, but plenty o'them actually believe they need t'do things f'r th'community as well as to them."

"Of course, it was my duty and pleasure." Kass nods in turn, sipping her drink and letting the two converse, pausing to look over her drink in contemplation, turning the cup this way and that.

She shakes her head. "None o'them are saints, o'course, an' even their 'protection' arrangements are little more'n extortion rackets; th'protection ye pay them f'r is protection not t'be ransacked by their own thugs, but… It's similar to some o'th'more tolerable gangs in th'Warrens; once ye lay claim t'a territory, ye take on th'obligation t'protect that territory an' anyone in it from others. Unlike th'official government, they don't have any other way t'establish legitimacy — an' as someone pointed out, they do help th'community in a number o'ways th'government either isn't willin' or capable of."

Another shrug. "It's not a perfect world."

Johny contemplates his glass of scotch. "Let me draw for you a parallel." He says then. "A strong man and his band of men, ride the countryside and take from the workers, that which they need to survive. THis is the basis of government. Taxes, fines, penalties, they are just requisitioning with a new name and a different sword. The knight was organized crime of his age. Organized crime only became organized crime when there was the rise of the nationalist structure of the Victorian era. Before that, it was simply -the way things were-." He shrugs then. "Governments did not provide security as we understand it; so people hired people to defend them. Love or hate organized crime, Janie, they are a part of our social fabric, not as an ethnoculture, but as a -species-."

He continues his thought then… "and we have re-entered an age where the nationalist structure is breaking down. Is the corporation so different than the criminal these days?"

Aware of what is being talked about only around the edges, Kassandra stays quiet. She's currently tracing a finger around on her glass and just looking at things in general, her attention drifting here and there, at least her visual perception. There is a set to her shoulders and posture that indicates she is keeping up with what is being said.

That draws a half-chuckle, at least. "Not once they managed t'bribe enough officials at high enough levels t'get extraterritorial status," she replies. "Speakin' o'which, didn't Aztech originate as a bunch o'major Mexican drug cartels incorporatin' themselves?"

Taking a very official tone that is clearly mockery… "YOU demean the noble spirit of the Aztlanner people by impuning the honor and integrity of the defender of the people, Aztechnology."
Johny said that.
Laughing a little, Kassandra murmurs, "Aren't a lot of groups created or have a rich history of interaction with criminals?"
Janie snickers at that. "Ye need just a bit more o' carefully sculpted phony hispanic accent an' ye'd be a dead ringer f'r Hector Ramirez' most recent trid debate."
Johny nods to Kassandra. "Yes, exactly." Then to Janie… "My point is, you cannot… deny an asset its value because you disagree with its moral basis. I won't ever tell you I'm a moral man." A pause. "I have moral goals. But actual morals I leave to people who are incapable." He raises an eyebrow. "Do you understand what I mean that?"
Janie nods, her face tightening slightly as she remembers the last time she had a discussion with Johny regarding ethics. "I think I do," she replies after a moment. "I don't like it, an' I sincerely hope I never will, but I think I understand."
Sipping her drink, Kassandra adjusts her glasses and nods quietly to what is being said. She doesn't look to have any wisdom or even wisecracks to impart, willing to see where this is going.
Johny leans forward then. "We can." A gesture 'out there' with one hand. "They cannot." A pause. "They who cannot, can.. be concerned about the moral ramifications and the finer points of dogmatic concern. We, who can, cannot be concerned with the moral ramifications. The reason is because Morals… cannot be abrogated. Ever. If I stick to the moralistic implications of my theo-philosophical construct, christianity?" He pauses… "I must never kill. I must never steal. I must turn the other cheek and care NOT for this world…. but the next world."
"An' by not carin', possibly condemn billions o'lives to a fate that'll have th'survivors envy th'dead," Janie nods. "I don't think much about theology in general; just th'core rule that th'proper purpose o'power is t'protect those who can't."
"You just made my point for me." he says simply.
Scooting back on the table a bit, Kass sets down her drink to retie her shoe, looking between the two.

Johny lets Janie digest that, turning to Kassandra. "What has you up so late, Kassie?"
Yikes, the attention is on her again. Kassie smiles and shrugs, "I couldn't sleep and after Maya's feeding I thought I'd drive around a bit. I ended up here." She shrugs again, toying with her sunglasses. She almost takes them off and then thinks better of it, reaching for her drink instead.

"Um. As I said earlier, there was an after action report that I should file about the last mission, but .. at the same time I can't."
Janie sips her drink, grateful for the chance to ponder what she's discussed a bit more, and listens to what Kassandra has to say.

Johny purses his lips, offering a nod to Kassandra. "Okay. I'll make time for you whenever you like." He says simply, accepting what she's said. He sips his drink again… "I'm going to have to call upon you and Ally for your medical skills."
"Oh? We can do that, we work very well together. In fact, I may have to call *you* up for your skills as well." Kass laughs a little, shrugging. "It must be a surgical time of year." She drifts off a moment, considering something, but then is back with a little smile. She keeps her .. head, because her eyes are covers .. focused on the table, the walls, anywhere but the two people in the room.
Johny purses his lips. "Kassandra?" He asks then, his tone shifting; to one of concern. "How's your stress level? You.. coping okay?"
Janie glances from Kass to Johny and back. "If this is somethin' ye'd rather discuss in private, I c'n leave," she offers.
She laughs, just this side of hysterical. "My stress level is .." She laughs again and shakes her head. "I am coping with things as best I can." She glances to Janie and shakes her head, "No, this is something that you'd find out about soon enough, I think, and Johny will need .. verification."

She looks back to Johny and shakes her head. "This *cannot* get back to You Know Who." A pause. "Remember when we talked about comics the other day?"
Johny nods to Kassandra. "Yeah. I remember…" He seems ginuinly concerned now… leaning in. Not 'boss' concerned, but personal, friend concerned.
Focusing on the table now, Kassandra says, "If when Stevie Stephens' nuclear reactor blew up on him, if he wandered in and told his bosses at OmniCorp, what do you think they'd have done?"
Janie is even more confused about the discussion than Kass was earlier, but Kass' body language - not to mention Johny's reactions to it - convey quite nicely that things are likely going capital-B Bad. She puts her drink down to listen more carefully.
Johny pauses then… "They would have torn him apart trying to replicate the process and create a race of supermen with which to finally conquer the Zorgonites."
Tapping her nose, Kassandra nods. "Precisely. So this doesn't go any further." She takes a deep breath and continues, "I should probably wait for Aladriel to be here for this, but here we are, so," she laughs a little and shrugs, "It's unlikely that it'd go unnoticed for long. There were some .. side effects .. from the mission."
Johny now -really- seems to regard her carefully.. "Go on."
Janie blinks, unwilling to believe that Kass is implying what it sounds like she is, then briefly shifts her perceptions to the Astral to examine Kass' aura.

This elven female is in excellent health with no signs whatsoever of disease or addiction. She shows no signs of cybernetic infestations, her aura bright and full of life. Any number of colours swirl in her aura, the most predominate being a cool grey shyness, a reserve that surrounds her. Peeking past that you will see a vibrant rose pink of intense love and devotion, flashing golden curiosity and a shining blue intelligence that seeks to understand and learn.
Magically she is a new star, her magic genuine and true. She is of the hermetic bent just by the way her magic seems to be structured. There is a focus on her right foot that sustains some sort of Health related spell, and a ring on her right hand that seems to have some powerful magics to it, although they are not active. Finally, she often has some sort of focus worked in her hair, a manipulation spell of low power active.

Pulling off her sunglasses, Kassandra waves to Janie with unfocused eyes. "Right." She shrugs and says to Johny, "I … cannot explain it, but I .. well." She laughs and shrugs. "Let's say that I see things a lot more clearly now."
Janie … Just /stares/, her mouth not /quite/ falling open in shock, but…
"… That's not supposed t'be possible," she eventually manages to bring out.
Johny glances at Janie, then back to Kassandra. "Uh." He says, rather articulately. "Whats not supposed to be possible?"
Kassandra 'focuses' on Johny, "Concern. Curiosity. Some worry." She shrugs a little and says, "Um. I think things went a little wonky after the geode blew up on me."
"She's Awakened," Janie replies simply, recovering her wits quickly enough once the shock passes.


Johny recovers from that pretty quickly, given his brain is full of metal and meat designed for speed of thought. "I could offer three hypothsis that come to mind immediately."
Kassandra laughs, falling back on the table. She lays there laughing for a moment before sitting up, "Ahem. Heh. Yes, there are a few ideas that come to mind on this, aren't there?" She giggles again, reaching for the sunglasses out of habit.
"o'course, ye're right; how it happened is less important than keepin' secret that it did - an' that's not goin' t'be simple given that any mage that takes a look'll see her f'r what she is…"
Johny exhales. "Okay. So we get one of the ladies to teach you how to mask that shit…" Says Johny then, standing up and looking over at Kassandra as she lies on the table. "I believe you always had the talent, Kassandra, but your life till now has not supported the freedom of emotion or thought that would allow such free expression of will. And the.. geode, as you call it.. perhaps broke open already establishe channels."
Nodding to both, Kassandra says, "Ally and I are working on the basics and will move to the more advanced things once I can stop spontaniously perceiving and the like." She sits up more and considers Johny, frowning faintly. "That .. is an interesting idea. Can emotional or physical abuse suppress magical talent? In which case, there might be more Awakened than we originally thought."

"As far as the rest goes, I'll stay out of the public eye even more than I do now. Of course, I am a Dragon. A Vampire. Some creature from the beyond. Isn't that what the streets say?"

"It c'n certainly affect it," Janie nods. "Part o'th'reason May's relationship with her totem is so screwed up is because she was bein' conditioned in a bunraku parlor when she Awakened." The ominous glance at both others present vaguely threatening dire retribution if that fact ever gets out is mostly a formality, as she trusts them to keep a secret well enough. "Even most hermetics'll agree that th'creative process is a strong guidin' factor in th'ability t'use magic an' that emotional states reflect on th'results. If ye were… Emotionally stunted…" she says finally, picking her words with care, "durin' y'r formative years, that might've inhibited y'r ability t'draw on magic. An' by th'time ye'd come out o'that, th'amount o'cyber ye were sportin' would've kept suppressin' it…"

Kassandra nods quietly, fidgeting with her shoe string. "That .. is not an unreasonable assumption. It could explain a great deal, a very great deal." She sighs and shakes her head, "Well, it's an interesting turn of events, nonetheless. And now .. now I have to learn things that other magicians probably learned years ago!" She snorts and adds, "At my age!"

Johny offers his hand down to the woman on the table. "For what its worth… I'm really happy for you." He smiles then, leaning in close. "I always said you had a magic touch."
Taking Johny's hand, Kass laughs, "It could explain some of my ability to read people and deal with them." She shrugs and offers, "In any case, I thought you guys should know so that Janie or Slinger don't scream and powerbolt me because they think I am possessed or something."
Johny glances over at Janie… then back to Kassandra. HE points at Kassie with his free hand. "Take memo, Ms. Blair. There will be no powerbolting of Kassandra Cindel, recently married and recently awakened."
Janie chuckles and shakes her head. "Possession looks markedly different," she replies. "Ye're still y'rself; just… " she trails off; trying to map astral perception of auras into something someone without the ability to see for himself could understand. "Enhanced, I suppose."
She chuckles at Johny. "No powerboltin' Kass. Understood. How about Manabolts?"
Joking, Kass says, "No, surprisingly they are all natural." A beat. "Hey!" The elf chuckles and says, "As if I didn't have enough learning to do, now I get to learn how to manipulate mana."
Johny places one hand to his heart. "Oh complain some more! Beautiful! NIgh immortal, beauty to bend physics, and now the ability to break? Pshaw! Such is your lot in life!"
Kassandra laughs, shaking her head. "Sure, sure, make fun I see how it is Mr. Man. Just remember that I'll remember this when you are under for your surgery, and I'll shave my name in your hair!"
Janie chuckles. "Kids," she admonishes the pair before her - and never mind that she's half the age of either of them.
Johny shakes his head then, giving her hand a squeeze then turning away. "You people are going to be the death of me. If I could have kids anymore, I'd tie it in a knot first."
"I think that would make someone VERY unhappy. Well, maybe not, depends on if she likes knots I guess." Kass grins at Janie and shrugs, swinging off the table and sliding to the floor. "Still, I'll be working diligently on not accidentally summoning an Elder Demon or something. Ally is excited to be able to teach me things for a change, so it should be entertaining nonetheless."
"Th'whole vault's warded, so any explosions should be fairly contained," Janie offers helpfully.
Johny rolls his eyes. "Great. Now, I think its official." A pause. "I'm the only non magical person on the goddamn team."
"Lilith. Cash." Kassandra ticks two names off quickly. "See, you aren't all alone. And really, what do you expect?? You have people searching for magical stuff, you are going to hire more magicians!"
Johny nods. "Yes, but the pool of people to enjoy Karl Kombatmage goes down because now, while I'm snarking the bad technology, you're going to start snarking the bad magic!"

"So? Snarkin' th'schlock magic's just our way o'appreciatin' it," Janie points out.
"Well, it'll be interesting. You should maybe look for a few new non-magicals to round things out and catch bullets for all the magicians? And .. this should REALLY confuse the enemy! How can you 'geek the mage' when everyone is a mage!"

"Break out th'frag grenades, plural?" Janie suggests.
Johny does not seem amused, which is no small feat when he's clearly amused, but trying to seem unamused. "Going. To be. The Death. Of me."
"Oooo frag grenades, that sounds good." Kass grins and nods to Johny, "I'll make sure that is on your tombstone, 'These Bitches Were The Death Of Me.'"
"Ye make it sound as if dyin' due to th'attentions o'half a dozen beautiful women's a horrible fate," Janie teases.
Johny laughs outloud now, settling back in to a chair now, with his drink. "Make a post script. 'He loved his scotch more than any one of them; it always listened."
"You and your scotch. Do you know that fully ten percent of our budget goes for your and Lilith's overwealming love of expensive liquor?" Kass shakes her head with sadness. "We could buy a whole brewery."
Johny hurms quietly… "We do have the other silos.." He says thoughtfully.
"… An' settin' up an area f'r hydroponics would reduce th'base's reliance on external supplies," Janie muses.
Johny eyes Kassandra now, waggling eyebrows. "Now, if we can set up a tobbaconry, well, we could nearly kill all the over head, what with my cigar consumption dropped…."
"That isn't a bad idea. We really should take a more active approach to remove our reliance on external things and stock up for the times when things are bad." Kass nods to Johny, "You could do that. You and Slinger and Lilith smoke enough to kill half the population of a small city. I'm working on a spell to remove the stench of that crap from my hair, and with a little air elemental to keep it off me I think I could almost stand it."
Johny smiles… "And now you can summon your own."
Beaming, Kassandra nod and wiggles her fingers. "Ally tells me the talent is there, I just need to refine the process and find a way to .. do whatever it is." She laughs a little and shrugs, "It was .. is .. very disconcerting still. I've dreamed about being able to do this, but in my dreams I could just DO it. I mean, you don't have to *learn* in a dream, you just reach out and plop an elemental into being or cast Uber Spell of Enemy Slaying. No one said there would homework!"
"There always is," Janie replies, grinning.
"At least ye'll have a good teacher that c'n motivate ye."
"You can say that again. She has all sorts of .. um .. interesting teaching motivational tricks." Kass blushes slightly and checks her watch. "And now I'm late. Maya will be up in exactly one hour for her six AM wake up Kassie and get a drink funtime. I should be able to catch an airtaxi and get home before that if I run."
Johny shakes his head. "Back in college, yiou know, when we still used paper and pen?" A glance to the book on the table… "I had a girlfriend who motivated me for O-CHem in such a fashion."
Kass blinks at Johny. "She held chocolate cake just out of reach until you did homework?"
«Game» Backup to offline storage commencing. Game may freeze for a bit…
"If by chocolate cake you mean magic shell coating her nipples." He says, gathering his book.
"Ye live at Sam's old place, right?" Janie asks. "I could probably drive ye there in time, if ye like."
Johny shakes his head. "They live at Maya's New Place."
"You are a sad, sick little man Johny. And no, I'll be fine by air taxi. I can fly from the station in Boulder and be there lickity split and you won't have to make the drive back in morning traffic." Kass taps the ring on her right hand and says, "I have a *few* tricks still."
Johny raises an eyebrow. "whaT? You don't like chocolate?"
Janie chuckles. "So young an' already owns her own mansion, with gorgeous support staff. Clearly she'll own th'world by puberty."
Johny lifts his book, glancing at Kassandra. "And with Kassandra for a mother, she'll get it at a steep discount. Good night, ladies."
Turning to go, Kass remarks, "Not in bed. I don't want to have to fuss with changing the sheets and then having to wash them the next day. Chocolate is SOOOO messy." She tugs on the door and nods to Janie, "I expect by the time she is six she'll own Denver." A wave it tossed and then Kass is out the door, singing at the top of her lungs and listening to the echo off the walls.

"Most likely because ye'll have swindled th'council into sellin' th'place to her f'r half a nuyen," she calls after Kass, laughing.

Johny eyes Janie. "There'll be no living with her now." He intones in his best 'lecherous pirate'.
"At least it'll be interestin'," Janie points out, smiling herself.

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